Eat Your Books will search your cookbook recipes for you

If there ever was a field of endeavor that the Internet could enhance, it is cooking, imho. How many of us own shelf after shelf of cookbooks, yet struggle to find any particular recipe? How often have we had a refrigerator full of odds and ends, yet been unable to find a dish that would utilize them?

A new Web site, Eat Your Books, offers to help arrange, coordinate and access the recipes of our cook book collection, online.

The site, which costs $25 per year, allows you to list the cookbooks on your shelf. For any in its collection of 16,000+ that have been indexed, all the recipes in that book will be accessible and searchable.

For example, once you add Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey to your shelf, any recipe using snow peas will show up when you search on that ingredient. I input five cookbooks, and a search for recipes using spinach in those books returned 28 dishes.

I have a couple of reservations about this site, however. To check out just how many cookbooks have been indexed, and therefor are accessible through the site, I searched a list of 21 favorites from Budget Living Magazine, ranging from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking to A Gracious Plenty by John T. Edge.

The results? Of the 21, only 10 were indexed. If less than half of these well-known books are indexed, what percentage of the less popular ones on my shelf would be available?

I also have to wonder how many people will pony up the $25 annual membership. Sites like cookstr and allrecipes offer recipes for free, a price point that is hard to beat.

My impression is that this site is staking out ground halfway between the past (printed books) and the future (online content). I'm not sure that enough cooks will pause on that journey long enough to make the concept viable.

However, if you have a hoard of cookbooks that you'll only give up when your dead, cold fingers are pried from them, this might be an interesting way to make them more useful. The site is offering a 30-day free trial, so you have nothing to lose by taking it for a test cook. Perhaps you'll have more luck finding that your treasures are indexed.

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